The circulatory system is an essential part of what keeps us going. It is also referred to as the cardiovascular system and consists of the heart and the blood vessels. The heart’s job is to pump blood to different parts of the body and this blood carries vital nutrients and oxygen to the different organs. It travels via the blood vessels. The heart is divided into four compartments that each have a different role. The compartment on the upper right is responsible for collecting the incoming impure blood from all over the body and moving it on to the lower right compartment. The lower right compartment sends the blood on to the lungs for purification. The purified blood is then returned to the heart – this time in the upper left ventricle from where it is moved into the lower left compartment and then back out as fresh, pure blood to the remainder of the body.
The blood is primarily carried through main arteries that are thick tube-like structures leading from the heart around the body. The arteries branch into many sub arteries which in turn will divide into thin-walled capillaries. The capillaries interact with the organs directly and due to their thin walls, they pass oxygen and nutrients to the organs and tissues that need them the most. The used resources are ejected from the tissue and back into the capillaries to be fed on through specialized veins to return the impure blood back to the heart to start the entire process once more. This is a difficult job as the pressure has decreased this far from the heart so the veins are assisted by valves to regulate the flow.
The important thing to understand about the way the circulatory system is set up is that it has two main parts, the blood system and the lymphatic system. It is the job of the lymphatic system to remove waste from the circulatory system. The two different systems run almost side by side but while the blood system has a pump – the heart – the lymphatic system does not have a single organ designed to power its operations. This job falls to the muscles, which pump the lymphatic system by contracting and expanding. This is of course where Yoga comes in.
Yoga is a discipline unique in its combination of focus on body, mind and spirit. The body component is taken care of with a series of poses and postures, which are designed to clear blockages in the circulatory system and ensure that everything is flowing as it should at an even regular rate. It also flexes the muscles and strengthens them very efficiently over time with a minimal amount of ‘grunt’. This strengthening and constant working of these muscles pumps the lymphatic system and makes out body many times more efficient at the removal of waste matter. As a result, people who practice Yoga regularly can expect that they will have a greatly enhanced immune response system and be able to deal with infection and disease better than their non-Yogi counterparts.
Furthermore, the benefits start before this. Yoga sessions will usually be with a series of standing exercises emphasizing long slow breathing exercises. These breathing exercises are common to all forms of yoga and force us to concentrate on our breath and it’s pathway through the body each time we take a fresh breath. The exercises are designed especially so that people are not restricted in where and when they can practice them and ideally would use them instead of our slower shallower normal breathing pattern.
Because the breaths are longer and deeper the oxygen intake is increased. Combined with the enhancing effects that the exercises have on the regularity of circulation in the blood system the oxygen is much more efficiently transported to the muscles of the body. If these muscles, along with our other organs and tissues are not receiving the oxygen and nutrients we need then we starve them and become ill as a result.
As you can see Yoga is of great assistance to the complex and interlocking system of circulation. It recognizes the basis and importance of the system and helps to be it back into balance.
Prevention of Heart Attacks by Yoga practice
Strict changes in diet and lifestyle can not only prevent heart attacks but can reverse the clogging of the arteries, according to a small but pioneering study.
The study showed that a vegetarian diet, moderate exercise and an hour a day of yoga and meditation could produce a reversal of atherosclerosis, a blockage of the arteries that can lead to a heart attack, in men and women who were strict in following the daily regimen.
Experts say this is the first study to report that such blockage can be reversed without using cholesterol-lowering drugs or surgery.
The study, which was conducted by Dr Dean Ornish, director of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, Calif., was presented at the meeting of the American Heart Association in New Orleans.
This is a tremendously important study in the control of heart disease. It’s the very first study indicating regression of coronary heart disease without pharmaceutical intervention. The results also suggest that the current medical guidelines for changes in the habits of people with severe heart disease do not go far enough.
Previous studies have shown that exercise and diet changes can slow the progression of heart disease, but not reverse it.
While the study did not determine what percentage of improvement could be attributed to the lifestyle changes alone, the researchers noted that stress-control methods have been shown to ease recovery from a variety of disorders, including hypertension.
But some experts are skeptical of the need for stress-management methods, which are not currently among standard recommendations for those with severe heart disease.
Some experts on cardiac rehabilitation question whether most people with heart disease could follow such strict changes in their habits.
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) and Yoga practice
For controlling your hypertension, there are two effective yoga exercises that help lower the blood pressure:
Inverted yoga reverses the action of gravity on the body. The most profound changes brought about by Inverted Yoga is in circulation. In inverted poses, legs and abdomen are placed higher than the heart.
Lengthening up through the legs and keep them very active so your spine opens and the entire body actively involved in the pose.
One of the reasons for this is simply because the force of gravity is reversed and venous return becomes significantly greater.
Normally, the muscles of the calf and other skeletal muscles in the lower extremities must contract in order to pump unoxygenated blood and waste back to the heart through the veins.
In inverted poses, gravity causes the blood to flow easily back through the veins and this brings the blood pressure in the feet to a minimum. This in effect gives skeletal muscles a chance to rest.
In Inverted poses, drainage of blood and waste from the lower body back to the heart is increased and disorders such as varicose veins and swollen ankles are relieved.
It’s time to learn about breathing because inhaling and exhaling have the power to nourish the body and calm the mind.
Not just any old breathing will do. If you’re like most people, you take shallow breaths, pull in your stomach when you inhale and never empty your lungs of carbon dioxide when you exhale.
Here’s the physiological explanation: Long, slow breaths are more efficient than short, fast ones.
To take in a good breath, your lungs must first be basically empty. Thus the key to efficient breathing lies in exhaling completely. A full exhalation begins with the upper chest, proceeds to the middle chest and finishes with tightening the abdominal muscles.
Only after a good exhalation can you draw in a good lungful of the oxygen-rich air your blood needs for nourishing cells.